« ForrigeFortsæt »
disposition which led to all this, caused him to furnish such books and other implements of teaching as were deemed necessary; and, in 1843, under a master and mistress selected by himself, the school opened. What followed? The opening fête, whereat tea and cakes abounded, brought fifty or sixty children together, and the school was well filled. At the end of the first year the attendants had diminished from fifty to thirty; at the end of the second to twenty-one; and, in 1846, the doors were closed, amid many and bitter reflections on the indifference of the poor to the blessing of a religious education.. But were these reflections just? We think not. The children were taught nothing, during these three years of attendance, beyond what Dr. Bell undertook to teach in 1799. They learned the collects and their catechisms, a prayer and graces before and after meals. They wore out many New Testaments by frequent thumbing. Their writing took the shape of hieroglyphics upon slates; and there their training ended. How can any thinking man at the present day expect to interest the poor or their children in such a mockery of education as this? For the poor must really make some sacrifice if they are in earnest in striving to get their children educated. They must not only disburse the weekly penny, but keep their children from the chance of earning a small addition to the family fund; and, which is in many instances quite as hard to bring about, they must discipline their own tempers, so as to induce in their households habits of regularity and personal cleanliness. To bribe them into making such sacrifices, you must offer to them an article of which they can appreciate the value; which you will certainly not do so long as you restrict your curriculum within the limits circumscribed by the National Society's regulations.
We have quoted these two instances,-one of perfect success, the other of absolute failure, because they are extremes. But the interval between is neither a void, nor a dead level. You descend by very many steps from King's Somborne to Great Braxted, and are struck, as you proceed, with the variety of expedients to which conscientious educationists have recourse. One clergyman (and let us do the clergy the justice to say, that however mistaken in their views many of them may be, they are almost to a man friendly to popular education,) is driven to his wits ends for the lack of funds. He has begged, he has preached, he has got up bazaars, till these, with all other external resources, begin to fail; and now, rather than see his school die, he stints himself in the necessaries of life. Another flatters himself that he is in a fair way of causing his school to aintain itself; but if he do, it will be by a process which offers
Battersea: St. Mark's: and Westminster.
a positive premium to ignorance. His master is a trained man. He can teach not only grammar, but all the ologies: but these latter he imparts from his store according as pupils pay. He has a scale,—reading, for a weekly penny; reading and writing for two-pence; reading, writing, and arithmetic for three-pence; and so on up to six-pence, or perhaps a shilling, for Heaven knows how many additional subjects. This gentleman's school probably outlives those of his more modest neighbour. As the poor, however, think a great deal more of a penny disbursed today, than of the chances of success in after life, which a liberal education may give to their children, the vast majority of the scholars who frequent it, come on the easiest terms, for a while; and go away, as soon as work is offered to them, well nigh as little instructed as they were when they entered. But why pursue the subject further. Not only the Reports of her Majesty's Inspectors, but the unprejudiced exercise of his own powers of observation, must convince every thinking man, that education on the voluntary principle is at its last gasp. And yet we are admonished to listen to the repetition of the cry, The 'Church wants no assistance from the State. Let the State only hold back, and she will engage to do this great work of charity through the voluntary offerings of her children.'
It is not, however, in her method of working out details alone, that the Church, considered as the guardian of popular education, exhibits, even more than other voluntary associations, signs of internal weakness. Sectaries have, for the most part, some definite principle of action-she has none. Of her Training Institutions, which number little short of a score, there are scarcely two which instruct according to the same method, make use of the same text books, or hold the same dogmatic opinions; yet they all agree in this, that they are approaching to a state of collapse. Battersea, once so flourishing, has been recently at the point of dissolution, and is saved only for a time, and by a great effort. St. Mark's cannot fill more than half of its pupils' cells, and Westminster languishes. Here they agree; but look deeper into their affairs, and what do we find. At Westminster the Bell theory is still assiduously worked out; every thing is done by a multiplication of monitors, with masters and mistresses to superintend; and the text books are still broken catechisms, parables, miracles, Osterveld's Abridgment, the Faith and Duty of a Christian Man, and a thoroughgoing Church History of England. St. Mark's, embracing a wider range, fits its students to become rather High Church deacons or missionaries than schoolmasters. In addition to Latin, and we believe Greek, chanting and intoning are taught there,-feasts
VOL. XCV. NO. CXCIV.
fasts, and rituals religiously attended to. Meanwhile, with a view to counteract such pernicious tendencies, Low Church has set up an institution of her own, over the ordering of which Lord Shaftesbury and Mr. Burgess of Chelsea watch. Here, in the Metropolitan, as it is called, the Apostolical Succession is elaborately ridiculed, and the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration condemned. Why speak of Exeter and Cheltenham, of Oxford and Norwich, of Chichester and Worcester, of Durham and Chester? All these, with many more, come in, each for its share both of the Church's munificence and of the Government grant; yet the methods of training which they respectively adopt are as various as the religious principles and views inculcated in them are discordant. And all, except perhaps Cheltenham and the Metropolitan, are, as we believe, with difficulty kept alive. Now what is to be said in support of a devise like this? It is eleemosynary-it languishes for lack of funds. It is under the control of the clergy- the work which it does is done most inadequately. It is a Church devise — the religious doctrines circulated by it are as discordant as they can well be. And it is opposed in front, flank, and rear, by Independents, Wesleyans, and the British and Foreign School Society, each of which has its Training Institution likewise. Will Mr. Denison be good enough to explain to us how, out of such elements, he is to construct a machine which shall operate in any way to diffuse throughout society the twofold blessings of orthodox religious principles and a solid and practical secular education?
A consideration of these facts, borne out as they are by the Reports of Government Inspectors, not less than by universal experience, seems to establish two points; first, that the voluntary or eleemosynary principle on which education has heretofore been conducted, fails to supply the absolute wants of the nation; next, that the Church is incapable, when left to herself, of educating the children even of her own communion, as the State has a right to require. Indeed they prove more. The principle of voluntaryism was abandoned when the House of Commons first voted its supply in aid; and has more and more sunk into disrepute in proportion as the powers of the Committee of Privy Council have enlarged themselves. Where would the best of the Church's Training Institutions be, did they not receive Government assistance, no matter whether it come in the shape of direct grants, or as payments to Queen's scholars and pupil teachers? And when we look further afield, is it not owing to the liberality of the Privy Council, that half the schoolhouses in the provinces have sprung up? Yet with all this, and with a large subsidy added by Government, with the produce
Insufficiency of Voluntary Support.
of Queen's letters, charity sermons, and individual generosity, generation after generation of Englishmen grow up in worse than heathen ignorance. Indeed we will go further. The sort of education which young people receive at ninety-nine out of every hundred of the seminaries conducted on the voluntary principle, tends rather to depress than to elevate their moral nature. It sharpens their wits only so far as to render them conceited; but neither moulds their principles nor inspires them with a thirst of self-improvement in after life. By far the largest number of criminals belong to that class, of which it is recorded that they can read and write imperfectly,' and no
Conscious of the extent to which the evil has advanced, and anxious by any practicable means to work against it, two great parties have arisen in the manufacturing districts; both equally desiring to be taxed in order that their countrymen may receive education, though they differ between themselves as to the plan on which this education shall be conducted. The National Association eschews, in theory, all strictly religious training, and declines to avail itself either of existing school-houses, or of the machinery already in existence. It comes to Parliament for an Act which shall divide all England and Wales into educational districts, rendering each responsible for the building, the establishment, and the maintenance of schools, more or less in number, according to its population and their wants. Manchester and Salford are more modest. They would legislate only for a combination of specified boroughs, and raise a rate in aid of existing educational establishments. According to their plan every street, or cluster of streets, which can boast of a school-house and a teacher, may come upon the rate for an amount of aid, proportioned to the number of poor scholars which belong to it. Of course, the trustees of schools so applying must prove to the satisfaction of competent inspectors, that they educate effectually; and it is further required of them to show, that among the branches of instruction attended to in the school, religious knowledge is included. But the Board of General Management makes no inquiry as to the particular formularies through which religious knowledge is imparted. If the school be attended by the children of Church of England parents, and managed by a Church of England committee, the inspector is satisfied so long as the religion of the Church is taught. If Dissenters form the majority of pupils, and take the lead in the management, they will, in like manner, be assisted out of the rate, provided it be shown that they instruct in their own way so as to satisfy the inspector. It may be well,
however, to place the details of the rival schemes in juxtaposition; which we do by the following extracts from a pamphlet, entitled The Scheme of Secular Education proposed by the National Public Schools' Association compared with the Manchester and Salford Boroughs' Education Bill.'
1. A New Basis for School Management.
National Public Schools' Plan. BASIS OF THE ASSOCIATION.-I. The National Public School Association is formed to promote the establishment, by law, in England and Wales, of a system of free schools, which, supported by local rates, and managed by local committees specially elected for that purpose by the ratepayers, shall impart secular instruction only; leaving to parents, guardians, and religious teachers, the inculcation of doctrinal religion, to afford opportunities for which, the schools shall be closed at stated times in each week.
II. The school authorities shall consist of
1. School committees, elected by the ratepayers, in each district.
2. County boards, elected by the school committees within the county.
3. Inspectors and other officers, appointed by the county boards.
4. Commissioners, appointed by the crown to secure the establishment of the system.
2. Basis of Schools as now Managed.
VI. (1.) The proprietors or mana gers of all schools open to the inspection of H.M. inspectors, or to inspectors to be appointed under this Act, and employing teachers who have obtained certificates of merit, or teachers whose competency to conduct the schools is certified by the inspectors thereof, may place such schools in union with district committee.
(3.) No school, contrary to wish of proprietors or managers, to be admitted into union.
3. Authority for constituting School Districts.
I.-1. The division of England and Wales into counties, and the subdivision of counties into parishes and townships, shall be made use of for the purposes of this system.